IUPAC Holds Its First NAO Forum to Foster Internal Communication and Engagement within its Stakeholders
by Javier García Martinez, IUPAC President
The NAO Forum is a new communication channel, suggested by the IUPAC Review Group, that aims at facilitating and promoting communication between the IUPAC leadership team and our NAOs. In brief, the NAO Forum is an online conversation between IUPAC main stakeholders, convened by the IUPAC President at least once every biennium, preferably in those years where there is no General Assembly. During this online conversation, there are no reports from the Divisions, Standing Committees, or the Union’s Officers, nor are there any motions that need to be voted on. Those topics that the IUPAC President considers appropriate for the occasion are discussed and ample time is given for any question, suggestion, or concerns that the NAOs may have. The NAO Forum’s objective is to create a more fluid, direct, and agile communication between the IUPAC leadership team and the NAOs, which until now only met once every two years, this is, during Council meetings. This new communication channel makes use of online communication at a very low cost, while bringing many options for direct participation and the open exchange of ideas.
On July 13 and 14, 2022, the first IUPAC NAO Forum was held in two sessions to allows NAO representatives from all over the World to attend. After welcoming all participants, I began with a brief presentation about the transition period that the IUPAC leadership team is working on to implement the approved organizational changes. Prior to the NAO Forum, the IUPAC Executive Committee met to work on the design of the implementation plan of the changes approved last June during a Special Council meeting. The IUPAC vice president, Dr. Ehud Keinan, is chairing the working group in charge of conceiving and ultimately executing the changes approved at the Special Council meeting. I also informed the NAOs´ representatives about the Opening Ceremony of the International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development (IYBSSD) that was held in the UNESCO Headquarters, in Paris, France, on July 8, just a few days before our NAO Forum. I also reported on the financial resources I managed to secure from chemical organizations and companies to support our activities during the IYBSSD. I encouraged all the representatives of the NAOs to communicate in their respective countries about the opportunity that the IYBSSD represents and I encouraged them to organize activities that contribute to raising awareness of the role of chemistry in the construction of a more sustainable future and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. IUPAC will have a leading role in the IYBSSD, among other reasons, because the Global Women Breakfast 2023 will be one of the flagship activities of the IYBSSD.
After a couple of questions by the NAO representatives, I gave a brief update on some of our most relevant current activities including the update of the IUPAC Gold Book, the significant progress made by Digital IUPAC, the status of the World Chemistry Congress and IUPAC General Assembly. I mentioned the possibility of taking part in the scientific program of this major congress through the call for Focus Sessions, the Global Conversation on Sustainability -which we are organizing in partnership with the International Younger Chemists Network (IYCN)-, and the identification of a new Executive Director and a new Scientific Editor for Pure and Applied Chemistry. After this, I opened the floor for questions and open discussion. Some of the topics we covered in some detail included the new organizational structure. The IUPAC Secretary General, Richard Hartshorn, explained in detail how the first members of the Executive Board and Science Board of the Union will be elected. Several representatives of NAOs asked about the activities I described, the World Chemistry Congress, and various logistical and organizational issues. Finally, some NAO representatives informed the participants about the various initiatives they are carrying out in their respective countries and invited the attendees to join many of them.
The two sessions of the first NAO Forum were a success both in terms of the number of participants and the variety and relevance of the topics discussed, as expressed by several NAO representatives at the end of each session, when we spent some time evaluating this new initiative, proposing ways of improving it, and suggesting topics for future editions. The attendees made clear that they enjoyed this new channel of communication and very much welcomed the possibility of having more direct and frequent interaction with the IUPAC leadership team and of influencing in the activities of IUPAC between Council meetings.